Danielle Haakinson, MD, is a surgeon who specializes in abdominal transplants. She also is a fully trained minimally invasive surgeon and performs laparoscopic donor nephrectomies with an instrument-only technique. She is trained in transplantation of the kidney, liver and pancreas in both adults and children, and has a special interest in the unique complexities faced by patients who have diabetes.
“We have a lot of issues with diabetes in our transplant population,” says Dr. Haakinson, who worked as a research associate and performed basic science research, in addition to running a number of clinical trials related to diabetes before she applied to medical school. One issue is that blood sugar levels can get out of control because of steroids prescribed around the time of a transplant surgery. “Many people also have kidney failure secondary to diabetes. Also, a lot of our liver patients have metabolic syndrome or diabetes,” she says.
As an assistant professor of surgery (transplant and immunology) at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Haakinson has research interests that include the management of diabetes for surgical and transplant patients, expanding the use of marginal organs for transplant, and surgical education.
In clinic, she is constantly humbled by her patients. She recalls one who had a complicated course of care after a liver transplant. The patient had multiple cardiac arrests and spent three months in the intensive care unit. “No one thought he was going to make it, but he was just so thankful, each day, that he had this second chance at life,” she says. “I saw him about a year later when he came in for a follow-up appointment. He was like a new man. He said he was writing a book about his experience and gave me a photo of us in the intensive care unit (I was in my scrubs). To this day, I keep that photo in my office; he was truly an inspiration.”